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  • County joins forces with U of U to address homelessness

    Jan 21, 2016 | Read More News
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    admin logoOn Tuesday, Jan. 19, the Pima County Board of Supervisors unanimously gave permission for Pima County to participate in a project with the University of Utah that could result in federal funding to help the chronically homeless.

    Pima County, through grants from the Kresge Foundation and Tucson Electric Power, has been working with the University of Utah to analyze the feasibility of implementing a successful Pay for Success program to address homelessness within the County, specifically those homeless who have frequent interactions with the criminal justice system.

    Pay for Success programs allows private investors to give up-front funding to community service providers that target specific populations. Only when providers are able to demonstrate success are the private investors repaid. 

    In recent months, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Justice announced they have funds available for Pay for Success programs that will provide permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless people who have frequent interaction with the criminal justice system.

    On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors agreed to support the University of Utah’s Sorenson Center’s grant application to the HUD and DOJ and the County’s participation in the project.
    If awarded, the project could receive up to $1.3 million to look at what Pima County and local non-profits are doing to address homelessness among the jail population, look at other models that could be adopted, determine how programs can be independently evaluated and the process by which investors are reimbursed.

    “This is a great opportunity for us as we deal with these serious issues of homelessness and overcrowding in the jail,” said Deputy Pima County Administrator Jan Lesher.  

    The Board’s decision is just the latest measure in an ongoing effort to decrease the Pima County Adult Detention Center’s population. 

    Over the last nine months, Pima County leaders and criminal justice officials, along with community stakeholders, have been working closely with national experts to identify and examine policies and practices that most significantly drive jail population growth. 

    Their efforts have been funded by a $150,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as part of its Safety + Justice Challenge. A secondary grant application was submitted to the MacArthur Foundation earlier this month in the hopes a three-pronged jail population reduction plan can be implemented.